Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Too Much Like Bang the Drum Slowly. I Want to Know *Whose* Drum These People Banged, Slow or Otherwise (Because Sometimes You Bang on Deadline)

I don't quite know what to make of the "job obits" the Chronicle is running about the victims of its current purge -- some of the victims anyway; I don't know how far they are willing to push it as the numbers mount -- all those they are declaring redundant/releasing back to the wild/letting go/firing/shit canning/all of the above.

It's hard to enjoy these brief profiles. I think perhaps it is a case of one hand clapping. I think Mark Twain got it right when he said about being tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail,

"if it weren't for the honor and glory of the thing, I'd just as soon walk."

My feelings are mixed as I read the kind of praise one usually finds in award citations and second-hand death notices. It's pretty bloodless stuff. I wish there were a shadow version of these farewells in which some anonymous journalist wretch would put some flesh and blood on these people: who drank what, who drank too much of whatever it was, who balled who, who balled whom (if one of the ballers was a copy editor), who did good work in the messy, sharp-elbowed way that most journalism gets done, who made mistakes and was forgiven, who (rare bird) hardly ever made mistakes and was loved and hated in equal measure as a result.

These were journalists. I'm pretty sure that most of them were pretty irritating and pretty good company. I'd write it myself if I could, but I've been gone from the paper too long, and I don't know any of the fallen well enough to do justice to their frail incorrigible humanity, to where and how they invested their precious bodily fluids, which would make this final praise more than faint.

Postscript: The Chron has many alumni, some with more alumni spirit than others. A friend writes:

"Michael: These were career brown-nosers, and there wasn't much poetry in their small lives. I guess the reader is supposed to see this as the print equivalent of the broadcast of our military dead by ABC. Maybe flags would help."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, they're all written by Bronstein. Maybe that's why they're so lifeless.
I worked with two of 'em on what was the first of dozens of articles, and one documentary, on the NF.